How extraordinary that the 100th anniversary of the election of the United Statesí first woman to hold federal office ó our very own Jeannette Rankin ó coincided almost to the day of our recent presidential election.
Rankin was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 7, 1916, a full four years before American women won the right to vote. Imagine the courage and fortitude it took to accomplish this.
Say what you want about last weekís election. Many are reeling over the outcome and will be for some time to come. But the fact is, having a woman win the presidential nomination of a major party for President of the United States of America for the first time is historic, significant and extraordinary.
Those who wanted to see the countryís first woman POTUS can take heart in the great strides in down-ballot contests. Pramila Jayapal became the first Indian-American woman elected to Congress in Washington state. Ilhan Omar was elected the nationís first Somali-American state legislator in Minnesota. Tammy Duckworth is the first Asian American woman elected to Congress in Illinois, the first disabled woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first member of Congress born in Thailand. Democrat and former Nevada Attorney General Catherin Cortez Masto replaces Senate minority leader Harry Reid and is the first Latina to serve in the Senate. The election of these women is extraordinary.
We donít have to look to political office, though, to see extraordinary women at work in our communities. I had the privilege of interviewing and featuring five local women veterans from multiple generations who served their country proudly from World War II through the Iraq War. The last of those profiles is published today with Gina Beckerís story from World War II. Women in the military remain a small minority, and I believe it takes great courage for women yet today to step up to serve in the Armed Forces. They are extraordinary.
I have extraordinary women in my own family when I look at my daughtersí accomplishments. My older daughter Heather, the CBS TV reporter in Alaska, heads to Washington, D.C. tomorrow by herself to cover a group of young people from Kodiak who are being honored at the White House. She will get a chance to meet First Lady Michelle Obama, and later in the week will do a story showcasing the plight of the homeless population in the nationís capital. In my book, this is extraordinary.
My younger daughter Deanna, a stay-at-home mom, is operating an infant care center in her home to help pay the rent while her husband completes his Ph.D. in molecular biology. Right now she is caring for a special-needs baby alongside her own 1-year-old daughter. This is extraordinary.
Iíve been a member of Soroptimist International of Whitefish for 12 years and am as committed as Iíve ever been to the organizationís mission: to improve the lives of women and girls locally, nationally and around the world. There are so many extraordinary women just waiting for an opportunity to succeed.
ďThe Wizard of OzĒ taught generations of us that we have always had the power within us to accomplish whatever we set our minds to, whether itís matters of the head, heart or home. Sometimes, though, we need each other to make our miracles happen, especially women who continue to break down barriers and stride toward greatness. Now itís time for us to click those ruby heels together and make something extraordinary happen.
Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.